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J Neurophysiol. 2009 May;101(5):2693-707. doi: 10.1152/jn.00061.2009. Epub 2009 Feb 18.

Relationship between adapted neural population responses in MT and motion adaptation in speed and direction of smooth-pursuit eye movements.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neuroscience, and Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0444, USA.


We have asked how sensory adaptation is represented in the response of a population of visual motion neurons and whether the neural adaptation could drive behavioral adaptation. Our approach was to evaluate the effects of about 10 s of motion adaptation on both smooth-pursuit eye movements and the responses of neuron populations in extrastriate middle temporal visual area (MT) in awake monkeys. Stimuli for neural recordings consisted of patches of 100% correlated dot textures. There was a wide range of effects across neurons, but on average adaptation reduced the amplitude and width of the direction tuning curves of MT neurons, without large changes in the preferred direction. The effects were greatest when the direction of the adapting stimulus corresponded to the preferred direction of the MT neuron under study. Adaptation also reduced the amplitude of speed-tuning curves, again with the greatest effect when the adapting speed was equal to the preferred speed. The adapted tuning curves were shifted toward lower preferred speeds as the adapting speed increased. We constructed populations of model MT neurons based on our experimental sample and showed that the effects of adaptation on the direction and speed of pursuit eye movements were predicted when a variant of vector averaging decoded the responses of a subset of the neural population. We conclude that the effects of motion adaptation on the responses of MT neurons can support behavioral adaptation in pursuit eye movements.

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